I wonder if the Downtown Orlando community grasps the stage that is being thrust upon them — and the unparalleled opportunity that stage will bring – starting tomorrow morning. For every reporter granted courtroom access, there are at least four other support personnel in the wings walking downtown streets, browsing our stores, utilizing our free Lymmo transportation service and looking to detect the pulse of Orlando. They want to know what makes Orlando tick. These journalists are fascinated by the juxtaposition of our magical tourism “worlds” (Disney World, Sea World, even Flea World) against the world of a death penalty murder trial that, deservedly or not, has captured the world’s attention.
The setting of the last gargantuan trial (from a media perspective) was held near the Hollywood stages in Los Angeles, a city that is accustomed to aggressive paparazzi, famous faces and larger-than- life personalities. With the O.J. Simpson trial as a barometer, it’s safe to say that Orlando has never experienced anything like what is about to descend upon the City Beautiful. Mayor Dyer, Orlando City Council and the Downtown Development Board grasp this as an opportunity to showcase our true Orlando – to demonstrate our sense of neighborhoods and community and yes, our potential as a cosmopolitan destination is in the balance the next month or so.
While cities across the country are begging for publicity to generate economic development, the international stage has been thrust upon us. It’s an opportunity to tout our greatness and to counter the image of a young mother who is charged with murdering her child. It’s up to the folks in Downtown Orlando to seize this opportunity for the right kind of stardom.
Lori C. Booker, APR, is founder and CEO of CBR and is a respected media commentator.